Classical magazine Diapason hurls barbs at Opera Australia’s “hideous monstrosity.”

The French are notoriously tough critics of classical music – Parisian opera-goers are among the quickest to boo, and 100 years after the premiere of The Rite of Spring,its punchdrunk riot is the stuff of legend. There’s certainly no French kiss on its way to Opera Australia after Diapasonclassical music magazine, the Francophone equivalent of Gramophone,slammed the DVD of last year’s inaugural Opera on Sydney Harbour in a particularly scathing review.

In the February edition, critic Michel Parouty didn’t have a single bon motto say about the $11-million water-bound production of La Traviata,bemoaning the “hideous costumes”, “ridiculous drag queens”, and “vulgarity that relies on the worst clichés and recoils at nothing”. In short, he says, “ horreur”.

Although he concedes that Emma Matthews, the only cast member mentioned by name, is an “excellent singer”, he charges the production for turning her into an “overcharged, hysterical” Violetta. And we thought Frenchmen were charming!

This tirade of invective might not bode well for Opera Australia, with just a week before they unveil the second incarnation of the Opera on Sydney Harbour extravaganza, the French opera Carmen.However, Parouty puts the...